The Kaizen Principle & a Tiny Piece of Carpet
American business leaders were often perplexed at how well Japanese businesses were run. Wanting to replicate their successes, they analyzed some of the top companies, from Toyota to Sony. What they found was a model of business not found in the West, one built on discipline that made constant improvements. Kaizen, a Japanese word that means “change for better,” was the principle they discovered.
Rather than just putting your nose to the grindstone and hustling, kaizen offers a way to do work that is done right and is fulfilling. It means that you do the right things at the right moment, and you do them with the hope of improvement in mind.
Dan Richmond, an elder at South Hills Church of the Nazarene in Bethel Park, PA experienced a moment of kaizen recently while leading the church through change. By working through the Intentional Growth Planning process, the church leaders identified improvements they could make leading them towards kingdom breakthrough. One of the improvements they made for “the One” was to remove their octagon-shaped Welcome Center to make a more flexible space for people to connect.
While preparing for the demo of the old Welcome Center, two camps emerged. One that was convinced there was carpet under the existing counter structure and the other camp was convinced there was not. As the demo progressed it became clear that there is carpet underneath! Whoever built this octagon understood change and the need for it.
Of course, this discovery was certainly a relief because it eliminated the need for troubleshooting the exposed subfloor, but it was a small scrap of 3”x2” carpet that changed Dan’s perspective the most. Along with leaving the carpet under the structure, the builder had also strategically left behind this small piece of carpet. Dan shares,
“They knew that someday the electrical line that fed the outlets in the octagon would no longer be needed and it might be necessary to patch the hole that was cut in the carpet to provide power. When that Welcome Center was built (and man was it built to last) someone had a dream. They believed that an octagon in the foyer would serve the needs of the members and guests. For a season, it served its purpose and served it well, but whoever built it understood change and the need for it.
To those builders it was probably just a practical thing to do, but to us, it can be recognition that change is what we make it. We can be excited about change instead of anxious. If people are concerned about change, we want to point the focus on ‘the one’ and preparing God’s house for an ‘Open House.’ The Church is you and me and not the physical building. “
We love Dan’s hope of improvement—that this change for the better to the physical space of the church will become a spiritual space for “the One” to connect with God and His people at South Hills. A core principle of ChurchOS is incremental improvement – this is a great example. You never know when that improvement identified by great process, will lead to incredible impact.